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Emerging From Lockdown

From March 2020, the UK was in some form of lockdown during repeated periods of time, restricting our movement and our ability to meet with others in our homes, in cafes, bars and clubs, and outside.

Taking as its starting point a series of interviews, this project weaves the words of Coventry people's experience of lockdown into a fictionalised narrative story, which, alongside images from a mass participation public photographic project, then became the film: Emerging from Lockdown. These collaborations explore how we have re-gained our Feelings of Freedom (or not) as we continue to emerge from lockdown. PI: Professor Jackie Hodgson.

The ResearchProf Jackie Hodgson, Dave Allen and Georgie Evans at the exhibition

During lockdown, the police were provided with powers of dispersal, the use of temporary barriers to control public mobility, and the ability to issue fixed penalty notices of £100 where more than six people or two households have gathered outside.

There were also fines of up to £10,000 for those holding or involved in prohibited gatherings indoors of more than 30 people.

Through interviews with 25 people in Coventry city centre in July 2021, the research asked how people have experienced the policing and legal regulation of a public health pandemic. How did criminal justice powers to enforce public health restrictions impact individuals? How do people with young families, those working in front line services, retail, hospitality, the arts or at-home experience the city? How did they understand the legal restrictions on their freedom of movement, and how does the city feel now that they're free to move, meet and gather as they please?

What ‘new normal’ spaces in the city have materialised, and to what extent have the extraordinary measures introduced in lockdown been retained in a post-pandemic world.

How did this loss of freedom feel to people? What does their new-found liberty look like as they emerge out of lockdown and return to the city?

This was led by Professor Jackie Hodgson (Warwick Law School; Centre for Operational Police Research) with research assistance provided by Georgie Evans & Livia Mercusa.

The Grid Project

In the next phase of the project, Jackie partnered with The Grid Project, run by Dave Allen, to invite those who live, work or visit Coventry to take part in a map-based photographic survey of central Coventry over 2 weeks in August 2021. The outcomes - photographs - are shown on the Grid Project page here and in an exhibition at the Warwick Arts Centre held in November 2021 as part of the Feelings of Freedom festival. (Left to right, George Evans, Jackie Hodgson, Dave Allen)

The city centre area covered by this project is small. It is located less than 1km from Coventry Railway Station and spans the area from the Transport Museum in the north, the cathedral and Herbert Gallery to the east, The Wave to the south and the retail market to the west.

The exhibition held at the Feelings of Freedom Festival

The Creative Writing

After analysing the themes and experiences reflected in the research interviews, the responses from these interviews were woven into a fictionalised story, written by Georgie Evans - "Blinking in the Light". With a little input from Jackie Hodgson and the actor who would narrate the story, Bharti Patel, Georgie crafted a story that touched on many of the experiences spoken of by our interviewees. She captures the joys and the sorrows of lockdown life, and the anxieties of what lies ahead.

The Film: Emerging from Lockdown

The film "Emerging from Lockdown" features Georgie Evans' story, narrated by actor Bharti Patel, alongside the photographs from The Grid Project. With input from Jackie Hodgson and Dave Allen, Mark Udall at Warwick Print produced the film for us, adding in a soundtrack. The result is both moving and uplifting, bringing research findings to life through film and stories. We hope you enjoy it.